March 2, 2014

Over 1,000 Students Marching to the White House to Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

Contact: Jamie Henn, [email protected], 415-890-3350

Hundreds will handcuff themselves to the White House fence, up to 500 risking arrest

March from Georgetown includes mock oil spill at Secretary of State John Kerry’s House at 3900 O St.

Washington, DC — The largest youth civil disobedience at the White House in a generation is taking place this afternoon, with upwards of 500 students from more than 200 colleges and 42 states planning to risk arrest.

More than 1,000 young people total have turned out for XL Dissent, a youth-led protest of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama is expected to make a final decision on the project as early as this May.

“Obama was the first President I voted for, and I want real climate action and a rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Nick Stracco, a Senior at Tulane University and one of the lead organizers of XL Dissent. “The people that voted him into office have made it absolutely clear what we want, and that’s to reject Keystone XL.”

In a recent poll, 70% of young voters said that support for action on climate change will affect who they vote for, and 73% said they’d vote against a politician who wasn’t addressing the problem. An overwhelming 80% of young people support the President taking action to address climate change, suggesting that a pipeline rejection based on climate impacts would be widely applauded. 

“An entire movement has thrown itself into in this Keystone fight, from local frontline groups to big national green organizations,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “But this weekend shows the power and bravery of some of the most crucial elements: young people, and activists who understand the centrality of  environmental justice.”

Many of the students taking part in the protest are doing so out of a desire to stand in solidarity with communities that are facing the direct impacts of the fossil fuel industry and the climate crisis, from indigenous communities living near the tar sands to ranchers and farmers who are facing off against pipelines and fracking in their backyards.

“I come from Morocco, and we face a lot of problems because of climate change–people are actually praying to get rain,” said Mariam Khoudari, a student at Bryn Mawr college who is attending the rally. “I’m here because the impact of Keystone XL would make those prayers unanswerable.”

The XL Dissent protest on Sunday will begin with a rally at Georgetown University, where President Obama laid out his “climate test” for the Keystone XL pipeline, saying that he would only approve the project if it did not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. Then, students will begin a march to the White House, stopping at Secretary of State Kerry’s house to urge him to recommend the President reject Keystone XL.

The march will end with a rally in Lafayette Park at 11:30am. Young people will then create a mock oil-spill in front of the White House, then sit-in down at the fence along Pennsylvania Avenue in act of civil disobedience to protest the project.

XL Dissent is being organized by a network of young people across the country who have come together over email and social media. The action is also being supported by organizations such as 350.org and the Energy Action Coalition.

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